Towards agricultural sustainability in Macaronesia

Persiguiendo la sostenibilidad agrícola de la Macaronesia
Tue, 14/01/2020

Researchers from the Agrobiotechnology group of the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology have launched AHIDAGRO, an innovation project that is committed to achieving agricultural sustainability in the Macaronesia. This project, coordinated by researcher Andrés Borges, is funded by the second call for European projects MAC-INTERREG 2014-2020 and will run for three years (2019-2022).

AHIDAGRO proposes the search of sustainable solutions in agriculture, through the use of bioactive natural products and extracts that contribute to water saving in strategic crops for the primary sector of the Canary Islands and Madeira. This is an innovative action that aims to develop natural products and solutions that protect crops in water deficit situations. The main beneficiaries of the action will be agricultural companies and farmers in the Macaronesia. The lack of water availability in environments characterised by less rainfall and high temperatures is an increasingly widespread phenomenon as a result of climate change. For this reason, although the project led by IPNA-CSIC stems from a local perspective, its results could lead to technologies that can be applied in markets outside the Macaronesia.

This project is in line with the strategic agronomic and bio-sustainability areas of the RIS3 intelligent specialisation strategy of the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores. The project started at the end of 2019 and will consist of several steps designed to meet different goals. Firstly, synthetic bio-guided modifications of α, β, γ-amino acids and K-group vitamins (1,4-naphthoquinones) with osmoprotective capacity will be carried out. Also in this phase, extracts from macro- and micro-algae endemic to Tenerife and Madeira, or from marine bacteria, will be obtained. In the next step, tests of osmoprotective activity of these modified natural compounds and extracts will be conducted on two plant species (mono- and dicotyledonous) under water deficit conditions. Once the best compounds and extracts have been selected, they will be evaluated under semi-controlled greenhouse conditions and, finally, on field, in strategic crops for the Macaronesia.

The AHIDAGRO consortium is integrated by the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology (IPNA) of the CSIC, as main beneficiary and head of the line, the University of La Laguna, the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife and the University of Madeira. In addition, the companies, Biovert, SL and Kweek Agro, S.L. contribute to the project as associated participants. The main aims of the projects funded by up to 85% by the European Regional Development Fund ( FEDER ) are to strengthen research, technological development and innovation, as well as to promote companies' investment in innovation, to establish links and synergies between them, R&D and higher education centers, especially in new products and/or services, and to transfer open technology through intelligent specialization.